NOTE: This post was orignally published at the request of our wonderful client, CEO, career expert and author Jane Miller, for www.JaneKnows.com.
Over the past few months, I have had the chance to speak about mentoring on numerous occasions. I usually give examples of formal mentoring and tips on how to make that work for both the mentor and the mentee. I have found from the discussions after these speeches that many people find mentoring to be a bit intimidating: how do you find the right mentor? What is the responsibility of both parties in the relationship? What if the mentor is not a good fit?
While pondering these great questions, it occurred to me that mentoring doesn’t have to be so intense. That, in fact, each of us can do little things everyday to support someone else. Eye contact. Positive reinforcement of an idea. Just listening.
I was so struck by the simplicity of this thought, that I asked a dear friend and my marketing guru, Mary Huron Hunter, to share her point of view on Everyday Mentoring.
In our fast-paced, technology-obsessed, to-do-list-overwhelmed culture, it can be easy to become disconnected, invisible, checked out.
It happens to all of us at one point or another…we know we should pick up the phone or pull someone aside in person to share something important to us. But, instead, we send an email or a text or a voicemail to voicemail message, missing the chance to truly experience one other. Expecting cyberspace to do the job. To be enough.
But think back for a minute, to a time at school or playing sports or learning something new when you were observed. Face to face. Eye to eye. Heart to heart.
Remember that time when our worlds were small and our interactions were big? How teachers, parents, caregivers, coaches, etc. held our tender hearts in their very hands when they truly witnessed us? Remember how important and filled up and confident we felt?
“Hey Mary, those cookies you made for the bake sale were the BEST I ever tasted!”
Our worlds are a lot bigger and more complex now. And yet, as human beings walking this planet together, we still have an inherent longing to feel like our contributions, our offerings, our lives are meaningful. To be recognized for our existence.
This is where mentoring enters the picture…
We all have the opportunity to make a difference in our own lives and those of others daily with one simple act: noticing.
When we pause, pay attention, give our presence, and notice something positive about another, we are offering an invaluable gift. We are saying to that person, “I see you. You matter.”
We are extending our innate desire to be in connection with others and to exchange treasured doses of attention and respect.
So, the next time you are in a meeting with coworkers, having lunch with a colleague, or joining a friend for yoga, look at the other person in the eye. Notice her. Witness her. Ask her a question. And then reflect back to her what you see in a warm, affirming light.
And when you do, you have not only helped a fellow human sink more softly into her own heart and to feel more self-confident, but you’ve served as a valuable teacher and guide…encouraging others to engage in the power of everyday mentorship.